Contemporary Austin unveils Jenny Holzer mural on its downtown museum building


The Contemporary Austin has unveiled a new mural by American artist Jenny Holzer on the 7th Street side of the museum’s Jones Center building in downtown Austin.

Reading IN A DREAM YOU SAW A WAY TO SURVIVE AND YOU WERE FULL OF JOY in large, red letters, the mural presents a text drawn from the artist’s series “Survival” (1983–85). It presented at part of the museum’s current exhibition of the same name, a show that features eight female artists working across a variety of mediums to explore the intersections of narrative, identity, and power

Holzer’s mural will be on view through Spring 2023.

Holzer first gained attention in the late 1970s with anonymous broadsheets that she posted around Manhattan bearing slogans, clichés or common aphorisms: A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE CAN GO A LONG WAY; OCCASIONALLY PRINCIPLES ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN PEOPLE; ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE.

She went on to place words and ideas on large-scale installations, advertising billboards, projections on buildings and illuminated electronic displays. The public dimension is integral to Holzer’s work, she uses only capital letters, with words and phrases often italicized, a strategy to heighten the urgency of their messages. Though her work often blends in among pop culture though it criticizes consumerism and the language of advertising and sloganeering.

“Holzer’s work provides a touchstone for thinking about how art can intersect with today’s social and political realities — how art can promote critical dialogues and inspire actionable change,” said curator Robin K. Williams who organized the exhibition in Austin. “Her work prompts people to revisit the ideas they hold and invites them to act for change. Our hope is that presenting this text in the heart of downtown Austin, seven blocks from the Texas capitol building, will do the same. The message is simultaneously critical, reflective, and inspiring.”

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